Forget such insane seasonal traditions as The Vigil of Seven Fishes. Darkest days of winter are prime time for citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. Grapefruits and oranges blast bowel fat, fight cancer with flavonoids, impart Vitamin C, and lead a list that includes clementines, kumquats, lemons, limes, mandarines (cuties, halos), minneolas (tangelos), pomelos, and tangerines. For greens, kale appeals, but arugula, chard, collards, lettuce, mustard greens, rabe, and spinach are also loaded with antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins that fight cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Parsley is nature’s highest source of Vitamin A, though other fresh herbs offer attendant benefits. Iceberg lettuce commonly plopped on burgers probably isn’t worth including; however, it does, like better greens, contain Vitamin K, which avoids artery hardening, helps clot blood, and protects brain and heart. Those who take blood thinners or worry about kidney stones may want to minimize eating oxalates in chard and spinach and Vitamin K. But such late-season sources of nutrients as broccoli and cabbage are rare and welcome, though they cause gas, which, if distressing, is mostly harmless. Whether shades of chartreuse, mindaro or nyanza, fruits and veggies are good eats as long as other nutritional needs are met.
For some people it can be a recreational pharmaceutical, but to say yes to food is to embrace life. Spices have been used as medicines for millennia. Surely, moderate intake is a must, moreover potable water. Focus ought to be on what sustains, such as whole grains, rather than empty calories from processed items, sugar, and white flour. While humans, omnivores by genetic necessity, can survive on them, various diseases directly stem from malnutrition and monotonous diets: anemia, beriberi, diabetes, goiter, gout, hypothyroidism, osteomalacia, pellagra, rickets, scurvy and whatnot. But only a person knows what agrees with her/his constitution. Carcinogenic additives, diarrheic fats, insecticides, parasites, preservatives, prions, protein bacteria, putrid meats, and tainted oils will turn anyone off beef, chicken, condiments, fish (particularly escolar and sardines), lamb or pork. Athletes and bicyclists are well aware, since they suffer demonstrably when deprived or infected. Out of touch with their bodies, couch potatoes stuffing themselves with chips and slop seldom notice until too late.
All such shortcomings are routinely forgiven for their entertainment boon. Vicarious thrill of victory will inevitably inveigle. Watching athletes dance on ballfields, courts, gridirons and rinks surpasses ballet and other performing arts. Remarkable accomplishments only result from endless repetition and ensuing muscle memory. Devotion and effort garner praise, unlike what usually occurs, and increase a sense of community, service, and teamwork, as if some morality play. Most compelling is nail biting surprise and suspense, not knowing outcome until it’s finally over; that’s hard to fake though billions of dollars have been made and spent on films that feebly simulate this effect.
Everything on this plane of existence is imbued with agony and ecstasy, color and gray, dark and light, gain and loss, good and evil, joy and pain, polar opposites pitted against each other. For every bureaucrat, general, governor, judge, legislator, martinet, priest and terrorist, more than scores of kind and supportive neighbors offset the suffering those who grasp at power impose. Clerics can try to put a burka on Pollyanna, but a female in denial will fight back by frustrating puerile desires, the sport that underlies all life’s struggles. One must accept that mankind both competes for comfort and seeks social approval, a campaign forever fraught with conflict and failure. Accumulating and chiseling have habitual, harmful, hateful consequences, though individuals can altruistically and sanely choose to transcend them through sacrifice and self control exemplified by teamwork. After Superbowl 50, can green rebirth of spring and renewed season for bicycling be far behind?